Perspectives on a Family Literacy Program: Voices of Participants

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Better Beginnings is a family literacy program, developed by the State Library of Western Australia, designed to provide positive literacy influences for children in their first three years of life. It is part of the Western Australian Government’s Early Years Strategy, aimed at improving outcomes for young children. The program, which is being implemented in communities in across Western Australia over three years, involves families, community child health professionals and local librarians. The pilot program was evaluated in two diverse communities, over a period of a year. This paper examines Better Beginnings from the perspectives of the parent and professional participants in order to identify elements that appear to add to or detract from the intended program outcomes. Responses from mothers and professionals suggest that overall the program was well-designed, carefully coordinated and delivered and well received by parents. However, a number of issues were identified that have important implications for the future of Better Beginnings and other programs of this type. These include involving non-traditional library users in the program in ways that are appropriate and affirming and sustaining the program through extended inter-agency collaboration and community involvement and ownership.


Keywords: Family Literacy Program, Early Literacy, Family and Community Partnerships, Program Outcomes, Interagency Collaboration
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: , , , , , , , , , , , Perspectives on a Family Literacy Program, ,


Prof Caroline Barratt-Pugh

Senior Lecturer Language and Literacy, School of Education, Edith Cowan University
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Caroline Barratt-Pugh is a senior lecturer in Early Childhood Education at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia. She has worked in schools and higher education institutions in the United Kingdom and Australia. Her research and teaching focuses on language and literacy in the early years with a special interest in family and community literacy, bilingualism and multiliteracies. She teaches language and literacy studies on Undergraduate and Post Graduate courses and has been involved in a number of Australian National literacy research projects. Her current research includes the evaluation two family intervention literacy programs, Better Beginnings and Let’s Read, in six communities across WA. She has written a number of journal articles and book chapters on early literacy and has just completed a second chapter for the ‘Birth to Three Matters’ series edited by Abbott, published by the Open University Press in the UK. She is co-editor of ‘Literacy Learning in the Early Years’ (2000) and her latest publication is ‘Literacy Learning in Australia: Practical Ideas for Early Childhood Education’ (2006).

Mary Rohl

Principal Research Fellow, Graduate School of Education, The University of Western Australia
Perth, Western Australia, Australia


Ref: I08P0561